The digital rights victory of the #noal218 civil society movement

” the extension of the term of copyright was defeated. However, the #noal218 movement did not take the victory as an end in itself, but as the beginning for a positive agenda on access to culture and copyright. The Uruguayan copyright law is extremely restrictive: it penalizes everyday socially accepted practices and it is in conflict with the right to education and access to culture. For that reason, from the new platform promotes a copyright law reform that recognizes the cultural practices associated with the use of new technologies, that do actually protect the authors, and that promotes a free culture. The Uruguayan government has committed to establish, within the next few months, the framework conducive to an institutional debate, with the largest number of voices represented.”

Excerpted from Jorge Gemetto:

“In early July, the Uruguayan government had included an article in the Accountability Bill (one omnibus bill that mostly deals with administrative issues), which extended the term of copyright from 50 to 70 years after the author’s death. Article 218 (that was its number in the bill) was included at the request of the Uruguayan Chamber of the Record Industry (CUD, in Spanish) in coordination with Uruguay’s General Association of Authors (AGADU, in Spanish), entities that historically led the copyright law reform, succeeding in imposing growing restrictions. This time, for the first time, they received a political setback, due to strong opposition from many sectors.

#noal218 [‘not to 218’] was the response’s name of various civil society organizations, students, musicians, writers, illustrators, actors, editors, feminist groups, free software groups and international human rights organizations, which joined forces in the initiative to remove the article in question and to avoid, as pointed out on its blog, the “privatization of culture in Uruguay.”

The main virtues of the #noal218 movement were the fast reflexes in launching the campaign, the articulation of various recognized social activism sectors, the determination to seek audience with political representatives and formulate before them the claim, the ability of network organization, and the proper use of digital media.

When evaluating the movement’s success, none of these factors was less important than the other. In several media, it was stressed that #noal218 was a social media phenomenon. And indeed, in part it was. Undoubtedly, effortless use of online communication by young activists, digital media savvy, was a unique characteristic of the movement. It was impressive the communication pace of the movement, with discussions and debates that opened on social networks all the time, as opposed to the silence of the measure promoters, which only declared in front of the so-called traditional media and through a brief text published, in the form of a press release, in the AGADU website.

Similarly, the ability of network organization with a less hierarchical structure based on bonds of trust and teamwork resulted in quick decisions that were key in achieving objectives. Obviously, there is a generational factor that determines this big difference in the communication and organization forms, and in this case favored the activists for the right to culture.”

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